INTERNATIONAL. Stratfor Middle East Analyst Toba Hellerstein discusses the resignation of Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and how it could impact the country's security going forward.
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Why is the Turkish Prime Minister resigning?
Ever since Ahmed Davutoglu became Erdogan's Prime Minister in 2014, there have been growing tensions between the leaders. While Erdogan and Davutoglu have long shared a joint vision for the ruling Justice and Development Party, differences have arisen over a variety of issues, including the appropriate balance of power between them.
Throughout his tenure, Erdogan has steadily worked to invert Turkey's traditional model, in which the prime minister holds the most power and the president's role is mostly ceremonial. In Erdogan's latest reduction of prime ministerial powers, he revoked the prime minister's authority to appoint the Justice and Development Party's provincial and district heads on April 29th.
What is driving this rift?
The rift between President Erdogan and Prime Minister Davutoglu is actually reflective of Erdogan's ambitions to consolidate his power not only over his party but also over the country as a whole. To gain greater power, Erdogan has been seeking a new constitution that will create an executive presidency.
In response, Turkish politicians have challenged what they call Erdogan's dictatorial tendencies. In fact, Erdogan's plans have polarized the country, fracturing the Justice and Development Party and other political parties alike. Furthermore, Erdogan's push to lift current lawmakers' immunity from prosecution has divided Turkey's party leaders, who fear that, in addition to probing lawmakers accused of supporting the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the president could use the law to hamper his rivals.
How could this rift impact Turkey's security?
Discord within the Justice and Development Party, combined with other domestic political squabbles, could divert Turkey from prudently pursuing its security objectives. Turkey's active campaign against Kurdish militancy has led to recent PKK attacks in Ankara, Istanbul and Bursa.
Concerns about the PKK extend into Iraq and Syria, where Turkey has conducted shelling and airstrikes against Kurdish groups and has considered expanded military action against them. In Syria, threats from the Islamic State compound Turkey's worries about the Kurds.
And while Davutoglu has spoken of possibly resuming peace talks with the PKK, Erdogan has insisted that every last PKK militant be killed. For instance, to galvanize waning political support for nationalist security endeavors, Erdogan could undertake a more aggressive military campaign against the Kurds in Syria or Iraq. But in doing so, he could invite conflict with Russia in Syria or Iran in Iraq.